This fall will bring new seasons of critic and fan favorites such as Fargo, Transparent, American Horror Story, Empire, The Leftovers, The Affair, The Returned, and The Knick, and will also see the revival of long-dormant series like Project Greenlight and Heroes. Dive in for details on these and many more of the fall TV season's notable returning shows, listed in order by premiere date.
Next week, check back for a look at the fall season's most notable new series. And be sure to visit our frequently updated TV Premiere Calendar for a quick list of all announced TV premiere dates for 2015.
You're the Worst Watch trailer
FXX, September 9
It shouldn't work. FXX's (formerly FX's) anti-rom-com is yet another series centered on caustic, deeply flawed, self-absorbed misanthropes. Yet the foursome at the heart of Stephen Falk's comedy are so well played and so completely aware of their own failings that they gain an unusual complexity, becoming strangely endearing in the process. That, coupled with plenty of brilliant dark humor, quickly converted critics, who ranked Worst among TV's best shows of 2014. The second season adds Collette Wolfe (Cougar Town), and is described by cast and crew as "deeper," "weirder" and "darker" than season 1. But not so dark that the gang can't celebrate another Sunday Funday.
Longmire Watch trailer
Netflix, September 10
Fans were disappointed when A&E canceled its western series Longmire in 2014 after three seasons, especially since that third season ended in a cliffhanger that was definitely not intended to be the series finale. But in stepped Netflix to rescue the series, and 10 new episodes will be available to stream on the 10th, with events picking up moments after last year's climax. Ally Walker (Sons of Anarchy) will be among the new faces in season 4, which producers describe as having a "more cinematic" feel thanks to the lack of commercial breaks.
Project Greenlight Watch trailer
HBO, September 13
The Ben Affleck- and Matt Damon-produced reality series, which aired for two seasons on HBO (and an even more memorable third season on Bravo) returns after a decade-long hiatus. Greenlight will once again follow a first-time film director (selected in part through online voting based on submitted short films) through the making of a feature from pre- to post-production, though this time there is no corresponding screenwriting competition—just a "Hollywood-vetted script." New to the series are the Farrelly brothers, who will mentor the rookie filmmaker.
The Mindy Project Watch trailer
Hulu, September 15
Seemingly in danger of cancellation the moment it first appeared on Fox in the fall of 2012, Mindy Kaling's eponymous sitcom managed to survive three seasons before getting the ax this spring. Not only did Hulu save the show, but it commissioned an extra-long 4th season of 26 episodes, which will stream on a weekly basis (with the season split into two chapters). Joseph Gordon-Levitt will guest in the season opener (as Mindy's husband in a Sliding Doors-type "what if" episode) along with the Duplass brothers, while Garret Dillahunt (Justified) will have a recurring role as Mindy's temporary replacement at work, and Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings) will show up in a future episode.
Gotham Watch trailer
Fox, September 21
Michael Chiklis (pictured—as always, he's playing a cop) is among the new faces you'll see during Gotham's second season, helping to make up for the departure of Jada Pinkett Smith. Other newcomers include Gracepoint's Jessica Lucas and The Tudors' James Frain (playing Tigress and her brother, Theo), while Morena Baccarin, Drew Powell, Nicholas D’Agosto, and Chris Chalk have been promoted to series regulars. Expect new characters The Joker and Mr. Freeze to factor into this season's storylines—as well as a female version of Firefly—as the show attempts to smooth over the bumps of season 1 and dive deeper into its characters' origin stories.
Empire Watch trailer
Fox, September 23
Any network would kill for a brand new show that starts strong and continues to build an audience week after week. For the struggling Fox network, Lee Daniels' hip-hop soap Empire arrived like a savior when it debuted to unexpectedly huge numbers in the spring. The network isn't making fans wait for new episodes; season 2 gets a fall start, and will expand to 18 episodes (though eight of those will be held back to next year). The show's instant success also means that celebrities are lining up to guest. Chris Rock will play a man from Lucious's (Terrence Howard) past who is serving time in the same prison, while other guests will include Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Andre Royo (The Wire), Kelly Rowland, Marisa Tomei, Ludacris, Pitbull, and possibly Mariah Carey and even Oprah Winfrey. And Ne-Yo will join Timbaland as the show's music producer. If you missed the first season, FX will air a marathon this Monday.
Heroes Reborn Watch trailer
NBC, September 24
Once upon a time, NBC had a hit series called Heroes, a comic book-style superhero story (before those were ubiquitous on American television) that was not actually based on any existing source material, but rather on a mythology created by Tim Kring and his staff of writers. Critics and fans mostly loved it during its debut season in 2006-07, less so the following year. By its fourth and final season, almost no one was still on board. Naturally, it has been revived. Conceived as a "10th season" of Heroes (i.e., as if the stories had progressed in the ensuing years but you forgot to watch them), Reborn will feature a mix of old and new characters. Returning are Jack Coleman, Greg Grunberg, Cristine Rose, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jimmy Jean-Louis, and Masi Oka, while newcomers include Zachary Levi, Dylan Bruce, and Ryan Guzman. The 13-episode season (originally deemed a limited "event" series with a definite ending, though it now appears that another season could follow) kicks off with a two-hour premiere, and Kring has suggested that the much shorter time frame will result in a more "aggressive" and "exhilarating" pace to the storytelling. And though it will continue the characters' stories, it is also designed to be approachable for viewers who are unfamiliar with previous seasons of Heroes.
Fox, September 27
About as under-the-radar as a Golden Globe-winning series can be, Fox's police comedy remains one of TV's most likable half-hours heading into its third season. When season 2 concluded last spring, Andre Braugher's Captain Holt had been promoted, forcing him to leave the gang at the 99th Precinct. Braugher, of course, remains in the cast, so don't expect that promotion to last forever. But the show will have fun with it during its opening episodes, and the 99's new captain (at least temporarily) will be played by Bill Hader. Also guesting this fall are Archie Panjabi and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
The Last Man on Earth
Fox, September 27
Boasting one of television comedy's most unusual premises—as well as one of its more unlikable lead characters—The Last Man on Earth mostly impressed critics and picked up four Emmy nominations during its short debut season last spring, though it wasn't without its bumps along the way. One major issue: as the show moved away from its title and began introducing new characters into its virtually unpopulated environment, Will Forte's Phil (and, to a lesser extent, those other characters) became harder and harder to take. But the finale suggested a few avenues open to the writers for a reset in season 2. And those writers will be guided by a new showrunner (The Office vet Dan Sterling, taking over from Forte) this year. Everyone involved has been coy about casting and plot details for the upcoming season, though finale guest star Jason Sudeikis will be back in some way, and January Jones appears to remain a regular cast member (along with Forte and Kristen Schaal).
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
ABC, September 29
Luke Mitchell and Henry Simmons have been elevated to regulars for the third season of TV's first series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Guest Blair Underwood will also return for multiple episodes, and he'll be joined by newcomers like Constance Zimmer (Entourage), who will play the head of a government agency that, like SHIELD, is hunting Inhumans. The action will pick up several months after last season's finale, and you can expect characters from the Secret Warriors comic series to appear this year. Companion ABC Marvel show Agent Carter will also return this season (though not until 2016), and, though it opted not to move forward with another SHIELD spinoff this year, the network is now developing a third Marvel series (centered on Adrianne Palicki’s Mockingbird and Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter) for next season.
Fox, October 1
Fox's one-time freshman hit endured a major sophomore slump last season, suffering a major drop in ratings and quality. Renewal was once in question, but Fox picked it up for another batch of 18 episodes (the same number as last year), with Clifton Campbell (creator of The Glades) replacing showrunner Mark Goffman. We'll see if previous suggestions that S3 will be lighter and less serialized prove true, but we do know there will be some cast changes. Gone are Orlando Jones (who played Captain Irving) and the Headless Horseman. Instead, Zach Appelman (who plays Joe Corbin) has been elevated to series regular, while newcomers include Lance Gross (as Abbie's new FBI boss) and Shannyn Sossamon (playing a mysterious new character named Pandora). And Twilight's Nikki Reed (pictured) will also join the cast as Betsy Ross, whose magical flag will come in handy throughout the season.
The Affair Watch trailer
Showtime, October 4
One of critics' favorite newcomers of 2014—at least until its finale—this Showtime drama (from the team behind In Treatment) spent its first season revealing the details of an extramarital affair from the often conflicting perspectives of the two people involved, played by Ruth Wilson (Luther) and Dominic West (The Wire). Season two will complicate things further by adding the perspectives of their spouses, played by Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney. (Each episode will focus on just two points of view, with the combination changing weekly.) While that probably won't quiet critic complaints about the increasingly (and implausibly?) divergent viewpoints, it should make for a drama that requires your full attention. And though the crime mystery that has also been woven throughout the story will conclude at the end of this season, the writers hope to continue the overall story past season 2 should Showtime allow them to.
The Good Wife
CBS, October 4
Archie Panjabi, Matthew Goode, and Makenzie Vega are the latest cast regulars to depart CBS's best-reviewed drama, which heads into its seventh season this fall. (The latter will appear in a few episodes, though the other two will not.) Helping to fill the void is Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Magic City, Extant), whose character will be the replacement investigator for Panjabi's Kalinda. Also appearing this season in recurring roles are Emmy winner Margo Martindale (The Americans), Peter Gallagher, and English actress Cush Jumbo (Vera). Interestingly, an ongoing storyline this season will be the presidential campaign by Chris Noth's Peter Florrick; he'll be running for the Democratic nomination (yes, against Hillary Clinton), with the story evolving in real time along with the actual primary schedule.
Homeland Watch trailer
Showtime, October 4
After more than a few stumbles in its third season, Showtime's once-buzzy spy thriller generated fewer grumbles from critics last year—and not necessarily because they stopped watching. Some reviewers felt the show had a creative rebirth in its fourth season, even if it turned into something more closely resembling 24 (and couldn't quite nail its finale). For its upcoming fifth season, Homeland will jump ahead several years and focus on Europe, becoming the first American TV series to film an entire season in Germany. There, Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison is working as a private security consultant rather than for the CIA. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't see Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, and F. Murray Abraham; those three are still regulars, joined by newcomers including Miranda Otto and German actor Sebastian Koch (The Lives of Others). Expect Ukraine, Russia, and ISIS to factor into the storyline.
The Leftovers Watch trailer
HBO, October 4
Damon Lindelof's adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel (about a mysterious event that causes 2% of the world's population to suddenly vanish without a trace) seemed to confound critics in its first season, alternating between transcendent and terrible. The second season will depend more heavily on Lindelof's creativity, as Perrotta's original source material was exhausted last year. Expect major changes this season, with some supporting cast members not returning as the setting shifts from Mapleton, New York to Texas (it will be filmed in Austin, which will stand in for another Texas town). The new setting comes with some new characters, including a family that features Law & Order: SVU's Kevin Carroll (pictured) and Regina King.
The CW, October 6
Sure, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) has a new Flash suit, but that isn't the only change in the CW's latest superhero hit as it enters season 2. Central City will also get some new regulars in the form of Masters of Sex co-star Teddy Sears (he'll play a version of the comics' Jay Garrick), Insurgent's Keiynan Lonsdale (Wally West/Kid Flash), and One Tree Hill vet Shantel VanSanten, who plays the newer character of Patty Spivot, a cop who could turn into a love interest for Barry. Michael Ironside will guest as Captain Cold's (Wentworth Miller) father, while Tony Todd will voice major season 2 baddie (and serious speedster) Zoom, though you won't see his face—at least at first. The season kicks off about six months after May's finale, will introduce multiple characters (in addition to Garrick) from the alternate universe Earth-2, and will include at least one crossover episode with Arrow.
The CW, October 6
Though it hasn't quite hit the heights of Veronica Mars (yet), Rob Thomas's return to television was more than enjoyable enough on its own merits to keep critics and viewers pleased during its debut season last spring, thanks to its blend of humor and—sorry—brains. But after it burned through a surprising amount of its serialized story (especially given that a chunk of each episode was devoted to the case of the week) in its short first season, what does season 2 hold in store? After the events of the finale, expect the new season to begin with Liv (Rose McIver) on the outs with nearly everyone in her life, leaving her with an unlikely ally (David Anders' Blaine) as she attempts to stay one step ahead of the Max Rager head honcho played by a returning Steven Webber. Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), meanwhile, will still have his suspicions aroused by the massacre at Meat Cute and will continue to investigate the case on his own. Though there was originally a chance she would be unavailable, Aly Michalka (Peyton) will also return this season, though it may be a while before you see her. The second season is expected to run for 13 episodes, with a chance that it could be extended.
American Horror Story: Hotel
FX, October 7
The fifth season of Ryan Murphy's horror anthology will feature a mix of new and returning actors, though it will likely be the first season not to include Jessica Lange or Frances Conroy. (The latter may make an appearance, though Conroy will be busy with her own new show, Hulu's Casual.) Back (though, as always, playing new characters) are Kathy Bates, Matt Bomer, Sarah Paulson, Chloë Sevigny, Denis O'Hare (playing a character named Liz Taylor, who is obsessed with the actress of the same name), Lily Rabe, Emma Roberts, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, and Mare Winningham. Rookies include New Girl's Max Greenfield (who lost 30 pounds for his role as a junkie and has a part in the "most disturbing scene" in the show's history) and Cheyenne Jackson, but the attention-grabbing newcomer is Lady Gaga, in her first major starring role anywhere. She plays the owner of the haunted Hotel Cortez, the main Los Angeles-based setting for what is expected to be a much darker season than what has come before. Several characters from previous seasons will check into the hotel at midseason, while you can also expect season 1's Murder House to make an appearance. Note that Murphy has been threatening to return with not one but two different seasons of AHS in 2016 (and that's in addition to his two new shows American Crime Story and Scream Queens), so cross your fingers that the writers don't exhaust all of their ideas this year (if they haven't already).
The CW, October 7
The DC comics hit enters its fourth season without Colton Haynes (who played Roy Harper during the first three seasons), but will add Neal McDonough (Justified) as the villain Damien Darhk, as well as a new suit for Stephen Amell's Arrow. Other characters from the comics coming to the show for the first time this season are Anarky (Alexander Calvert of Bates Motel), Baron Blitzkrieg (Jimmy Akingbola of Rev), and Mister Terrific (Ben and Kate's Echo Kellum), while Parker Young (Enlisted) and Jeri Ryan will guest. And despite coming from a different network, Matt Ryan, the star of NBC's short-lived Constantine, will reprise that character on Arrow's fifth episode this season. The Arrowverse will expand yet again this year with the launch of another spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow, at midseason. That series will center on Caity Lotz's Sara Lance, and (we'd say "spoiler alert" but they're hardly keeping it a secret) she'll be the focus of many of Arrow's early episodes this season as the basis for Legends' story is established.
The Walking Dead Watch trailer
AMC, October 11
Kicking off with a 90-minute premiere a week after the season finale of its already-a-hit spinoff series, cable's highest-rated drama series (ever) will be back with a sixth season that hopes to build on the creative upturn in season five. Season premieres are generally where the series shines, and this year's first episode will feature over 650 walkers (the most ever in a single episode). As teased in last year's finale, Lennie James—first introduced as Morgan back in the season 1 premiere—has returned to the show, and he'll be a regular this season, joining newcomers Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie), Ethan Embry (Brotherhood), and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton's Dr. Dre). Expect the Wolves to factor into the upcoming season, and also expect to see numerous time jumps and flashbacks—including one episode that will consist entirely of one long flashback.
Fargo Watch trailer
FX, October 12
The second season of Noah Hawley's hugely acclaimed series features a new cast, new setting, and (mostly) new characters, while retaining the first season's dark humor and Midwestern accents. Patrick Wilson plays a much younger version of Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine's character in the first season) in a new story that unfolds in South Dakota and Minnesota in the winter of 1979. Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Brad Garrett, and Michael Hogan are just some of the names in another loaded cast, joined by Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan (whose presidential campaign factors into a story that mainly involves warring crime syndicates). If you are worried about a True Detective-style season 2 debacle, don't be. Critics have already seen the first episode of Fargo, and early buzz is terrific. This could easily wind up as fall's best show.
Jane the Virgin
The CW, October 12
Despite a rather bonkers straight-from-a-telenovela premise, the CW's first comedy(-ish) series was the network's best-reviewed newcomer in ages when it debuted last fall, and it went on to win multiple awards, including a Peabody as well as a Golden Globe for its relatively unknown star, Gina Rodriguez. It even attracted some celebrity fans, including Britney Spears, who will play herself in an upcoming episode this fall. (Kesha will also guest, though not as herself.) The second season will also explore Jane's new status as a mother (after it resolves last year's cliffhanger finale, that is), while it may eventually lead to her marriage—though she'll have to choose between Rafael and Michael.
Manhattan Watch trailer
WGN, October 13
Cable TV staple WGN America launched its first original programming initiative in 2014, but only one of its first two series connected with TV critics (if not viewers): the 1940s-set drama Manhattan. Set in New Mexico, the surprisingly well-made show presents a mostly fictionalized look at the Manhattan Project that led to the creation of the first nuclear weapons during WWII. Critics felt the show improved considerably as it evolved during its first season, and were happy WGN renewed it despite relatively tiny ratings. (Fewer than 400,000 people watched the finale.) Season 2 ups the star power a bit, with William Petersen joining the cast in his first regular TV gig since departing CSI. Neve Campbell, Griffin Dunne, and Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife) will also join the show for a season that will include a six-month time jump (and cover a period that spans 15 months altogether). The first season was recently added to Hulu if you need to catch up.
Nathan for You
Comedy Central, October 15
In the first two seasons of his quietly subversive Comedy Central series, comedian Nathan Fielder has helped to "improve" small, local businesses (whose owners are never in on the joke) through a series of memorable stunts that included mocking Starbucks, creating a celebrity pig for a petting zoo, and hatching a scheme that involved a Johnny Depp impersonator and what could be the world's most pathetic film festival. For season 3, he'll help a hotel market to sexually active parents and attempt to kickstart a nationwide fitness craze. You'll probably want to watch.
The Knick Watch trailer
Cinemax, October 16
Yes, you still need to be a Cinemax subscriber to watch new episodes of Steven Soderbergh's early 20th century medical drama, though you can catch up on the well-reviewed first season right now through HBO Go/HBO Now. Part of the upcoming 10-episode second season (again directed in its entirety by Soderbergh, who just received a much-deserved Emmy nomination) will take place in San Francisco, though the bulk of the story will remain in New York, where the hospital that's home to the brilliant but drug-addicted surgeon Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) is slated for closure. You will probably still want to avoid watching it while you're eating dinner.
Amazon, December 4
It's hard to keep track of all of the accolades for the first season of Amazon's breakout original series. Not only was it the best-reviewed new show of 2014, but it also won two Golden Globes, was nominated for four Television Critics Association awards, and is in contention for 11 Emmys later this month. (Many of those honors went to Jeffrey Tambor for his lead performance as the head of the Pfefferman clan, who reveals himself to his family as Maura after spending the first decades of his life as Mort.) Amazon smartly picked up two additional seasons of the comedy, with the first of those debuting in early December. The upcoming season will include a pair of episodes directed by Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank), while other directors include Marielle Heller (director of this summer's acclaimed indie The Diary of a Teenage Girl) and series creator Jill Soloway. The focus won't all be on Tambor, though; expect the other main characters (including those played by Gaby Hoffmann, Jay Duplass, Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Alexandra Billings, and returning guest star Bradley Whitford) to be developed more fully this season.
It appears that few people other than TV critics watch Getting On, the acclaimed but under-promoted HBO comedy from the team behind Big Love that focuses on the nurses, doctors, and elderly patients in a run-down Long Beach hospital's extended care unit. But to the network's credit, they are bringing it back for a third season, though the upcoming six episodes will be the show's last. (It'll actually finish with three more episodes than the original British series on which it is based.) Jonathan Silverman joins returning stars Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash (who was just nominated for an Emmy), and Mel Rodriguez.
BBC America, tbd
Though an American remake is still in development, the British crime thriller Luther isn't quite done yet. Following its four-episode third season in 2013, the drama returns for a fourth "season" of just two hour-long episodes this fall. Few plot details have been revealed, though the series will again revolve around Idris Elba's titular detective, who will face off against "his most chilling adversary yet." New cast members include Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones).
The Returned Watch trailer
Its inferior U.S. remake was canceled after its first season, but the moody French original—known in its home country as Les Revenants and elsewhere as The Returned—will air its delayed but much anticipated second season sometime this fall (after the season's first two episodes debut at the Toronto International Film Festival). The action picks up about six months after the season 1 finale, with the residents of the French mountain town attempting to recover from both the flooding disaster as well as the disappearance of their back-from-the-dead loved ones. A government agent (who knows more than he lets on) arrives in town, and a new wave of dead people suddenly appear. The entire cast returns, while the band Mogwai again provides the soundtrack.
What will you be watching?
Which of these fall shows will you be (re)visiting? Let us know what you'll be watching in the comments section below.